French Western ‘Let The Corpses Tan’ puts a surreal twist on familiar tropes

Justin Jones

The brilliant criminal, the nervous newcomer and the upstanding lawman — Hollywood Western tropes are recognizable across the planet, and French directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani know it. In their newest film, “Let the Corpses Tan,” they gleefully play with the idea of a Western and tear it all down.

The film opens with a heist that leaves the characters with 250 kilos of gold bars. The ensuing hour and 15 minutes revolve around a violent standoff between the greedy criminals who stole the gold and the police who want to retrieve it. If this all sounds familiar, that’s not an accident.

Cattet and Forzani’s style and storytelling methods turn the well-worn story on its head, shifting perspectives every couple of minutes, showing the same event from multiple sides and throwing in liberal dashes of nudity-laced dream sequences. This introduction of time-manipulative storytelling and sleazy-surreal nightmares makes it impossible to look away.

The numerous double-crosses and plot twists involving characters that all kind of look the same make the plot of “Let the Corpses Tan” nearly impossible to accurately follow, but plot was never the movie’s focus. The kinetic direction and masterful style make up for this, as Cattet and Forzani’s film is absolutely one of the best films of Fantastic Fest so far.

  • “Let the Corpses Tan”
  • Rating: Not yet rated
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Score: 4/5 stars